Day three at Ascilite 2008
Tuesday 2nd December.
Another keynote presentation started the day with Piet Kommers talking about mobile and virtual presence in the learning community. A very entertaining and thoughtful talk on some higher-level aspects of technology in education. One of his quotes was “computers are the answer before the question has been created” warning of the tendency of folk to utilize technology for technologies sake and there has been some evidence of that in some of the presentations so far. But I suppose that in order to understand a technology it has to be tried in a similar context to where it would be ultimately used. He lists some of the threats of ICT in higher education:
• ICT becomes the goal rather than the means.
• ICT tends to distract the student.
• Teacher’s core expertise needs to be re-evaluated.
He also mentioned a school in Japan that takes work from local industries and gets the student’s to complete the work in a controlled, monitored situation. An excellent approach for a course that lends itself to that sort of situatedness.
One thing I’d like to follow up is some comments he made about what happens when something is made assessable. Apparently it changes the way the topic being learned is treated in the mind and sounded fascinating. Piet had an excellent strategy for dealing with the 40-50 minute audience laps in concentration by getting everyone to play some air violin which was entertaining.
All in all a very good keynote and well suited to the context.
The first session I attended was on digital natives and digital immigrants. I must admit the evidence they submitted in some way supported the way I’m thinking about this. Its difficult to group people by age and draw conclusions on how they will adapt to and utilize technology. However they did find that age, gender and role all had some discernable bearing on the outcome although on their eight point scale the variance tended to be less than one point. The next session was talking about the computing competence of first year university students and whether it has increased over the passed ten years that it has to some degree. The following session was on adaptive personal learning environments which caused some confusion among our ranks in that our definition of what a PLE is quite philosophically different from what they were discussing. Their PLE was a customizable LMS to provide accessibility to disabled folk in the UK which is vastly different to what CDDU perceives a PLE to be.
The food at Ascilite is nothing short of excellent and the organization is also very good.
The afternoon symposium was on mobile learning and reported on a project that has been underway for some time in NSW whereby they are using modern mobile phones to aid teaching and learning for both staff and students.